It was a make-or-break game for SU’s tourney hopes. The Orange came into McCamish Pavilion with a chance for a Quad 1 win and some redemption after Duke destroyed them on Monday. Fifty-four paint points later, Syracuse can kiss the postseason goodbye, as GT beat them 84-77 (unless anyone reading this is content with an NIT berth).
The trouble started early, when Marek Dolezaj picked up two fouls and Jim Boeheim was T’d up in the span of two and a half minutes. Georgia Tech center Moses Wright could’ve set up a tent, made a fire, and roasted some marshmallows on the block the way SU let him camp out down low. The Orange had five fouls and five turnovers in the first five minutes. Syracuse had no rhythm early on, and as expected by now, fell behind by double digits halfway through the first half. Alan Griffin was the only offensive threat, scoring 12 of the first 14 SU points.
However, SU roared back in the final eight minutes of half number one. Griffin caught on fire, going on an 8-0 solo run to finish with 20 in the first half, and Joe Girard chipped in eight points in that span. Jesse Edwards grabbed seven boards. He and John Bol Ajak did a decent job of protecting the paint.
The Orange went to the break up 39-34.
However, the second half became the Georgia Tech slam dunk showcase. Wright was a constant presence in the dunker spot, finishing with 31 points and 16 rebounds, and guards Jordan Usher and Michael Devoe started heating up from outside, capping at 19 and 18 points respectively. Syracuse went to the press, and a seven-point lead turned to double digits.
The Orange made a little headway once GT’s point guard Jose Alvarado fouled out, but Usher and Wright hammered dunks through the rim and put a bow on the contest.
Syracuse’s problems began well before this game, and they were exacerbated today. The slow start, the lack of size down low, and the inability to score consistently. SU went down double digits early, was out-rebounded and outmuscled by a Tech team that is terrible at rebounding, and Griffin was on the bench down the stretch after torching early.
There were some small positives. Edwards was in the proper positions on defense and had a few dunks, and Girard got in the flow of the offense (and didn’t take any horrendous shots). Syracuse just shot itself in the foot time after time, and Moses Wright’s work rate got the best of the Orange.
Break out the binoculars. It’s time to find a center in the transfer portal.